Another week, another lesson in a truth ignored by the mainstream media: Republicans are liars, and what they say should never be taken at face value. This time it was about another education scandal in Florida led by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. It began when the College Board, a nonprofit organization that administers educational standards for college graduates, announced that Florida had banned an Advanced Placement (AP) psychology course that over 30,000 Florida high school students are enrolling for the fall had.
Long story short, the bill signed by DeSantis banning schools from offering “instructions” in gender or sexual orientation, dubbed by critics as “don’t say gay law,” made it impossible for teachers to deal with very much addressing fundamental ideas like “sexuality is a problem” is part of life experience.” Instead of offering an inferior program, the college board was forced to eliminate AP courses from schools, which many students could use for academic achievement.
In response to the bad press, the Republican-controlled Florida government went into heavy propaganda, publishing a letter claiming that the AP psychology course could be taught “in its entirety,” but only “in a manner that is age-old – and developmentally appropriate”. That was common – and wrongly – Described as “reversal” in the press, even on LGBTQ-oriented websites get caught up in the hype. Thank God, The Popular Information team was there to debunk the lie and point out that “developmentally appropriate” language is a poison pill that amounts to a virtual ban on the AP psychology course.
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“A teacher can exclude content in AP psychology related to sexual orientation and gender identity and put their students at risk of not receiving credit,” explain Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria. “Or a teacher can incorporate these issues and risk losing their certification and their job.” As a result, Florida schools are canceling classes, despite reports to the contrary.
Thankfully, the Washington Post was quick to update the story with the correct information, under the caption, “Florida schools are dropping AP Psychology after state says it’s against the law.”
All of this confusion is largely intentional. The mixed messages from Republican leaders about what’s and isn’t allowed in schools serve a larger purpose: They’re making it so impossible for teachers to do their jobs that they give up even trying.
In some cases, teachers leave the profession or move to a less hostile state to work. In other cases, it’s more of a quiet giving-up as the restrictions force teachers to offer their students an inferior education for fear that the children’s actual challenge to learning will cross legal boundaries that will land teachers in serious trouble. Either way, kids in red states are losing access to quality education.
All of these various false outrages about education are fueled by Republicans and groups like Moms for Liberty for one reason: as an excuse to make teachers unable to do their jobs. The strategy increasingly pursued by Republicans is to destabilize schools by using confusing and conflicting rules to prevent teachers from even doing their jobs.
The strategy isn’t even hidden: write the rules in such a way that there’s no way to break them, and then use the rule-breaking as an excuse to abolish public education altogether.
As Kathryn Joyce reported for the New Republic in 2021, Republican leaders reject “the mere existence of public schools.” Carol Corbett Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, described the end result Republicans are seeking: “It will be a stratified system where well-off children get the absolute best education; Children in the middle will probably get a decent education; And children who are poor and disadvantaged sit in front of computers in a big room while someone stands at the door and holds them in check.”
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, told MSNBC that this attack on AP psychology is more like the same thing. “It only serves to undermine opportunities for Florida’s students. That’s what the governor is doing, and that’s what the Department of Education is doing.”
The absurdity of teaching under Republican rule is illustrated by another recent Tampa Bay Times story about Florida schools pulling the full text of Shakespeare plays out of the classroom. The Bard is considered too bold by DeSantis-era speech regulations. Instead, students only read heavily censored excerpts from a play like Romeo and Juliet. The excuse is just a joke high school kids are too young to know that the famous couple is having SEX on their WEDDING NIGHT.
This also makes it impossible for public school English teachers to prepare their students for college, where children are expected to be familiar with the basics of literature such as Shakespeare. This no doubt fits with the goals of Republicans, who clearly believe college should be a privilege only for those wealthy enough to afford private tuition.
Republicans want to transform public schools from places of learning into prisons for children, where they are kept in ignorance until they are too old to ever compete with well-heeled white children for elite college places.
So instead of teaching Shakespeare, teachers in Florida are now being told to do it Use materials created by a right-wing disinformation machine called “PragerU”. Unsurprisingly, in the anti-reading world of Republican politics, PragerU focuses not on books but on videos riddled with lies and misrepresentations. Videos are now considered “teaching material” in Florida. on topics such as why racism is a myth that blacks support because of “victim mentality.” Or like being A climate change denier is the same as “the Warsaw Uprising, when the city’s Jews fought back against the Nazis”. A particularly vile video used a Booker T. Washington cartoon character to make excuses for American slavery.
Substituting right-wing propaganda for real-life materials is not only immoral, it also makes it all but impossible for teachers to do their jobs. First, good teachers don’t lie to their students. In addition, such things make it difficult for students to develop the knowledge and skills they need for college or a job in the real world. PragerU’s materials encourage bigotry as well as literacy in literacy. They are functionally an anti-education and intended to make the person receiving them less intelligent than before.
It’s not just Florida. In Oklahoma, Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters has made a habit of publicly targeting individual teachers with conspiracy theories. A teacher, Summer Boismier, was fired from her job for sharing a link to it The Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned program, This gives out-of-state youth access to the library’s catalog. Now Walters accuses “Communist China”. “Donating money to public schools in Tulsa to try to weaken our United States government.” That’s not true, of course, but the aim of the lie seems to be to put a target for sin on a Chinese teacher, good in her to be job
Walters took a cue from the DeSantis handbook about imposing conflicting regulations on teachers. As the Daily Beast reports, Teachers “are required by state law to report on the Tulsa race massacre and the Holocaust, but they must also do so without discussing race or raising the issue of controversy.” Walters, in particular, made comments arguing that it somehow the Tulsa massacre was not about race, even though it was caused by mass killings and bribery of blacks by whites in an orgy of racial violence.
Walters takes advantage of the “damn-if-you-damn-if-you-don’t” situation he created and threatens to strip the entire Tulsa public school system of accreditation. The strategy isn’t even hidden: write the rules in such a way that there’s no way to break them, and then use the rule-breaking as an excuse to abolish public education altogether.
We can see this play out in Texas, where Republicans used false claims of underachievement in the racially diverse city of Houston as an excuse for the state to violently wrest control of the local school district from Houston voters. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott installed a sidekick, Mike Miles, as school district superintendent instead. Miles was chosen for his destructive talents, after leaving the Dallas school system in tatters after three years of successfully lowering test scores and driving out talented and experienced teachers and principals. Now Miles is in Houston pretending to be in charge while actually setting everything on fire. One of his first decisions was so obvious that it is hard to believe: He closes libraries – so they can be replaced with “discipline centers”.
The goal has never been presented so clearly. Republicans want to transform public schools from places of learning into prisons for children, where they are kept in ignorance until they are too old to ever compete with well-heeled white children for elite college places.
Public education in the US has long been underfunded and underserved. But even if it doesn’t succeed, it’s an important part of realizing the American dream of equal opportunity. That’s thanks in large part to the dedication of school teachers, who miraculously are showing up in droves, willing to do whatever it takes to help children learn and grow, even when they face obstacles such as racism, poverty, oppression and even benign neglect . Some students manage to integrate public education with college education and careers their parents never dreamed of. The great thing about public education is why Republicans hate it so much. These attacks on schools and teachers aren’t just penny ante culture war politics designed to shake up the base for the next election. It’s part of a larger attack on the idea that every child deserves an education, regardless of family.
about the Republican War on Education